I’m seeing a lot of talk about gooning in, like, regular ass podcasts and major news publications, of late. Everyone’s joking about it, yet somehow they’re still missing what gooning actually is.
I mean, they’re getting close —no pun intended. They’re talking about edging, pornography obsession, and sick gamer chair set ups (ugh, “goon caves”) to jerk off in. They’re touching on the vague concept that, yes, some straight men masturbate together or talk about masturbating online. Yet it always seems to come back to incels jerking off to Girls With Big Boobs in their mom’s basement. It’s not even half the picture.
Maybe that’s because Urban Dictionary isn’t really a reliable source when you’re trying to have a worthwhile discussion at the intersection of aesthetics, sex work, and homoerotic subculture. Maybe it’s because people are only doing research on the straight side of PornHub. (Hint: it’s more than the straight side of PornHub.) To understand gooning, you have to flip the camera around, and look at a gooner actually gooning.
Gooning is more than just a Reddit culture surrounding masturbation obsession, or “pornography addiction.” Gooning, if anything, is defined by a very obvious set of physical/vocal characteristics and associated moods. It looks and sounds like something very particular.
There’s basically a script at this point: The eyes cross. The tongue hangs out. The brow furrows. Drool puddles. The mouth opens wide. Stupid pleasure radiates in a cringey smile. (Why is nobody talking about this?) They groan. They moan. They do something called “penis babble” and speak in tongues talking about jerking off. It’s usually primal (see also: monkeybating). It’s usually stupid, or embarrassing. It’s intentionally cringe (see also: loserbating). All things that “shouldn’t be” horny” but somehow, totally are.
Gooning is about taking off the shackles of what’s a polite and acceptable expression of pleasure and really going ham with it. Allowing that pleasure to manifest in the face, body, and voice. Thinking with your dick. Thinking with your pussy. Being dumb. Being an animal.
And we animals are social! On camera, in person, dudes will flex at each other, show off for each other. Point at their penis. (And yes, we say “penis” — not dick, not cock). Gooners use intentionally cringe, puberty-speak language for jerkin it. “Makin my peepee go bounce bounce, up and down on my weenur bro, pullin pud, up and down. My fuck stick. My rigid phallus.” etc. etc. etc.
Gooners encourage one another. Coach one another. Copy one another. Call back and forth like some penile stichomythia. They record themselves, show off online or do it together in person. And like, yes, whatever, some of these dudes are straight. But the point is that they’re doing it together.
Gooning’s existence is only made possible through a homoerotic context. Gooners aren’t finding each other online by accident. Gooners goon with other gooners, they goon for other gooners, they goon to other gooners. And yes, some of them goon to girls (even if the girls are calling them faggots and sissies), and they goon to guys fucking girls. Call it heteroflexible, call it gay, call it whatever. They’re sharing it with the other guys online. This is ‘bator culture. A homoerotic third space. Dudes being dudes.
But this kink didn’t just come from nowhere, or the pandemic, like some suggest — it stems from platonic homoerotic rituals between men when they come of age. You can’t have a community of masturbators, or completely develop some complicated masturbation kink, if there aren’t dudes jerking off together in the first place. Guys jerk off together. It’s pretty normal “guy stuff,” but it’s definitely on the gay side of the fence.
Moreover, with gooning, it’s not just dudes. Girls goon. Trans people goon. While men are more commonly socialized to a) masturbate at all, and b) masturbate communally, women gooning in contemporary pornography predate guys doing it by a long shot. Ahegao face in hentai and video games? It’s probably where gooners got the idea in the first place. The ecstatic embrace of pleasure with fully-embodied expression is up for grabs by anyone, right?
Anyway: Point is: it’s just incredibly irksome to see “our thing” so poorly represented and explained in the discourse. Especially when it’s such an inherently queer thing. The real deal is way more interesting than like, discussing a gooner’s sense of interior design for their jerk-off lair. What about the person actually jerking off?
Why is it that when we talk about something as edgy (sorry) and counter-cultural as gooning, we barely talk about the gooning part. God forbid anybody mentions that *whispers:* gay people do it. If we did, maybe we’d learn something about ourselves, our culture — and how we can all cum like, really really hard.